with apologies to the ghost of Edvard Munch
Armando Galarraga has been optioned to triple-A. Wow! I was not expecting that one. Of course it was a possibility, especially with the way Arrrrmando had been struggling (9 runs, 4 walks, 14 hits over 7 IP), but I definitely did not think they would ship him out THIS early.
Possibly somewhat tinhattily related, Dontrelle had yet another fairly good outing today. I say ‘fairly good’ because while the results were undeniably good (3 IP scoreless and hitless, with only one walk), Dontrelle made a leaping stab for a ball in the first inning, fielded a comebacker that hit him right in the midsection immediately after, and spent the rest of his day wincing and grimacing after almost pitch he threw. He repeatedly grabbed at his back or side. Jim Leyland and the trainer came out and were waved away at least twice. The Mothership is calling it back spasms.
Rod and Mario had former pitcher Jim Deshaies, now one of the FSN Houston guys, with them today as a guest commentator (sidenote: this actually worked really well and made for an enjoyable broadcast). At one point Mr. Deshaies was down in the Astros dugout talking to Carlos Lee about Dontrelle. For whatever it’s worth, Lee did not sound impressed. He kept kind of shaking his head, talking about how Dontrelle’s velocity has dropped off, which was ‘flattening’ his ‘stuff’ (not a euphemism) (I assume) (/hope), and how he just wasn’t the same pitcher he once had been.
I don’t know. We’ve only seen him in little spurts, which is a rotten way to judge a pitcher, and we’ve only seen him in extremely low-stakes games, which is a rotten way to judge a pitcher. Of course this is the problem with everyone in spring training. It’s particularly problematic for the Tigers, who have a bunch of spots open with no clear frontrunners for most of them, forcing everyone to reluctantly give at least a little real weight to spring performance this year.
With Armando now seemingly bound for a warm feathery mudhen’s embrace, the Tigers’ starting rotation is starting to look… well, not like a real rotation, actually, but it’s starting to look like SOMETHING.
Verlander, Porcello, and Scherzer are basically locks. Both Verlander and Scherzer have kind of ugly spring ERAs, but it’s spring training, so nobody cares. We know what Justin can do, and we did not do The Worst Thing just to get Scherzer and then not use him, at the very least initially.
Then we have the following possibilities:
–Nate Robertson: 4 runs, 4 walks, 8 hits over 10.1 IP
–Dontrelle Willis: 1 run, 5 walks, 5 hits over 10 IP
–Jeremy Bonderman: 7 runs, 2 walks, 11 hits over 5.2 IP
–Phil Coke, I guess: 5 runs, 2 walks, 10 hits over 6.1 IP
Forced to choose from among these options, I choose death. Kidding! Kind of. None of them have leap-out-and-strangle-you-with-glory spring stats; Dontrelle’s nice run total is somewhat offset by the fact that he’s issued the most walks. If we want to go with the devil we know, it would make sense to head north with Nate and Bondo, but Mr. Soda is having a fair spring as compared to Bondo, and Dontrelle’s spring numbers look better than Nate’s. Of course these are spring numbers and thus have all the big league applicability of Tooth Fairy OBP, so maybe it comes down to who’s healthiest.
Who’s healthiest? Bondo, who is coming off of surgery and is still an unknown in many ways that just can’t be tested in spring training games? Nate, who is coming off of surgery and is still an unknown in many ways that just can’t be tested in spring training games? Dontrelle, who is a perfect storm of hyperextendability? Our Patron Saint of Carbonated Beverages had some kind of back problems in 2009, and we all know how those sorts of things just LOVE to recur.
Given that level of uncertainty, Armando can’t be feeling too great right now. He did easily have the worst set of spring stats, and maybe they just think he badly needs a ton of innings and the best way for him to get that is in Toledo, but it’s not like there’s cut-throat competition for one last spot in a solid rotation here. No, Armando pitched so poorly that the Tigers felt he didn’t have a chance in a wide-open fight for who can be the least objectionably mediocre. Ouch.